A Lack of Best Supporting Actor Nominations for Fargo (1996)…
I believe that three of the actors involved in this movie deserved an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.
Fargo (1996) | Official Trailer | MGM Studios and photos, MGM © Gramercy Pictures
The film Fargo (1996) is full of bleak, snow filled landscapes – or so the film suggests – in the lead up to the movie, where birds fly alone in a snow heavy sky. This title relating to the location for this Coen Brothers dark crime comedy. These scenes also reminding me of Finland but with Fargo having considerably fewer trees. The lone bird also reminded me of the Oscars given to the acting talent, with Frances McDormand as the sole bird justly winning the Oscar of Best Actress in a Leading Role.
However her male supporting cast were all non-Oscar Winners – in no particular order – and discussed here are Peter Stormare, William H Macy and Steve Buscemi. These actors were lost in the sky full of great and wonderful supporting actors for this particular year at the Oscars. As surprisingly these men only got one Oscar nomination between them. And even more shockingly none of the actors has won an Oscar. But more on this later.
Set in 1987, Fargo tells of Jerry Lundegaard (William H Macy), who works for his father-in-law as a car sales manager. Lundegaard is desperate for money. He is married into money, yet his father in law won’t lend him a dime unless it helps out his beloved daughter and his grandchild Scotty. So desperate times lead to desperate deeds and Lundegaard travels through the snow to The King of Clubs bar, towing a car.
On his arrival, he meets two shady looking characters, Carl (Buscemi) and Gaear (Stormare), in a meeting arranged by his mechanic. Carl, the more talkative one is more than hacked off as Lundegaard is an hour late. Gaear contributes once to the conversation and sits there with a menacing stare.
It’s revealed Lundegaard has hired these men to kidnap his wife, Jean, with the three of them sharing the ransom money. However in a bizarre twist, after speaking to his father-in-law on his return home, his father-in-law says he will give some money to him. However, Lundegaard can’t contact the men to cancel the kidnapping and he tries to go through the third-party who arranged it.
Meanwhile, Carl is trying to make conversation with Gaear. He’s getting super frustrated at Gaear and at his lack of conversation. Gaear breaking his prolonged silence suggests they stop for pancakes. So en route to the planned kidnapping they take in some food and some sex – at Carl’s request – with two young ladies. They arrive at the Lundegaards’ home and donning masks break into the house, with Jean escaping to the toilet.
After they break into the toilet with a crowbar in a scene reminding me of The Shining (1980), Jean is nowhere to be seen. The window is open but as she escapes from the shower, she gets caught up in the shower curtain and falls down the stairs. The men then leave with her wrapped in a bound and gagged in a blanket, on the back seat.
However, after being stopped by the state trooper, things take a turn for the worse when the he doesn’t believe Carl’s story about his driving licence and the reason for the dealer’s tags on the car. The cop asks him to leave the car. Gaear turns violent resulting in this cop being shot. Carl is horrified by this action, yet under Gaear’s instruction starts to move the body to a less obvious place. A car is approaching and the passengers notice everything on passing the scene. Gaear impulsively takes the pursuit of this car, shooting these witnesses after they try to escape.
Meanwhile, Lundegaard goes home to find his wife has been kidnapped. He phones his father-in-law – after rehearsing his speech (in a fantastically well-crafted scene) – who is concerned about his grandchild. A fact it appears Lundegaard did not think about. Then cut to Margie (McDormand) as she is woken up by her home phone.
As the local policewoman – 7 months into her pregnancy – she is called in to investigate working what happened quicker than Jessica Fletcher can remember her nephew’s name and whereabouts during her weekly murder denouement. (Fletcher, of course, is the much-loved writer/amateur detective in Murder She Wrote (1984-1996)).
So looking at the performances of these three actors individually…
William H Macy as Jerry Lundgaard
An actor I remember from the third Jurassic Park (2001) movie outing. There he was married to
Lois Griffin from Family Guy Tea Leoni and their kid goes missing amongst the dinosaurs.
In his part in Fargo, he totally convinced me in his fear and concern as he got more and more over his head as the situation became more and more out of control and the dead bodies stacked up. He made his character likeable and believable and earned an Oscar nomination but sadly missing out on his wonderfully played and sympathetic performance.
Steve Buscemi as Carl
Buscemi was also fantastic in his role, I always remember him stealing the show in Reservoir Dogs (1992) in his opening scenes as Mr Pink. He’s constantly whining and complaining character was a joy to watch as he complained about his pseudonym and tipping a waitress.
Here he continued to act in this way in this movie, be it when trying to build a relationship with his co-conspirators or trying to avoid a parking fee on leaving a car park. However his character was the more likeable of the kidnappers, all it seemed was he wanted someone to talk to (or sleep with, as he did with a couple of ladies during this movie). But as well as being totally inept, his anger often leads to deadly results.
Peter Stormare as Gaear
Stormare gave the most chillingly eerie of the three performances. After seeing him here, I believe this actor played all too brief a part in the recently released John Wick, Chapter 2 (2017) film. Stormare had fewer lines yet he made his character fearsome and unpredictably violent. His frightening stare and impulsive behaviour made him more formidable and scary with Buscemi’s character often looking unsure of and alarmed at his accomplice in crime’s increasingly frightening behaviour.
So more on those Oscars, the film won two Oscars – the other win for Best Writing for the Coen Brothers – and five nominations. Only William H Macy in the supporting cast was nominated for a supporting actor. But after seeing this movie, I feel these three actors deserved to share and win this accolade for their wonderful performances individually and together. So I’d proudly say in the words of Mira Sorvino who gave this particular Oscar to “the Best Supporting Actor goes to these three marvellous actors in Fargo”. As it’s so sad that their dreams turned to dust.
This was entered for the Unsung Hero blogathon run by KG Rants. Other movies with this cast include Stormare in my review of John Wick 2 (2017). Peter Stormare also appears in Chocolat and American Gods. William H Macy appears in Somewhere in Time. Frances McDormand stars in Somethings Gotta Give.